Procrastination is the bane of every student’s existence–we know what we have to do, but sometimes we can’t seem to make ourselves do it. It’s easy to put off assignments until the night before, but then three cups of coffee later we’re exhausted, frustrated, and turning in an assignment that hardly showcases our best work. Here are 10 tips to beat procrastination and get yourself out of that cycle.
1. Get organized. You can’t do any work if you don’t know what assignments need to be completed. Invest in a planner, or start using the calendar app on your phone. This makes it much easier to keep track of individual assignments and important due dates.
2. Set simple, achievable goals. Part of the reason for procrastination is that the task at hand seems too daunting. It’s a lot easier to get started on a project when you establish simple, reachable goals rather than a big, vague plan. Instead of telling yourself, “I’ll study biology tonight,” say, “I’ll study chapter six tonight.” This makes your goals less intimidating and more attainable.
3. Create a schedule. After you set your goals, create a timeline to complete them. This could be a study schedule for your big exam coming up (“On Tuesday, I’ll study chapter five, and on Wednesday, I’ll study chapter six”), or it could be mapping out an essay you have to write (“On Saturday, I’ll write the introduction and conclusion”). Breaking an assignment into small chunks over time makes it much more manageable.
4. Set a deadline. So many people get trapped in the cycle of “Someday, I’ll organize my notes,” or “I’ll get to that math homework eventually.” It’s important to set a specific date for when you want your goals to be accomplished. If you have an assignment due, aim to have it completed one or two days in advance. That way, if something unexpected happens, you still have extra time to complete it.
5. Eliminate distractions. It’s important to rid yourself of all potential disruptions before you begin working so you don’t get sidetracked later. If you tend to spend too much time on Snapchat or Instagram when you should be studying, then shut your phone off (all the way off). If your environment is noisy, try listening to classical music or white noise in headphones (Rainy Mood is my go-to).
6. Take breaks. It’s important to take mental breathers from schoolwork every now and then. Time your schoolwork sessions, and when your timer goes off, take a 10- to 30-minute break. Listen to music, take a walk, color, scream into a pillow—just do something that takes your mind off of work and allows you to relax.
7. Use incentives. Setting up small rewards for yourself can be very helpful for motivation. It could be something as simple as, “If I work on this assignment for an hour, I’ll watch an episode of my favorite TV show tonight.” Or it could be a bigger goal like, “If I get an A in math this semester, I’ll buy myself something I’ve been wanting for awhile.” It’s easier to pay attention when something is at stake.
8. Get the hard stuff done first. It’s hard to do something that you don’t want to do, but once you do it, it’s over! It is best to complete your most challenging assignments first, so that everything after it seems easier and takes a shorter amount of time. If you keep pushing that big English essay back, you’re never going to get it done. It’s best to buckle down and just do it.
9. Tell someone about your goal. It’s easy to blow off deadlines you set for yourself, but if you share your plan with a family member or friend, now there is someone else holding you responsible for your goals. It will be much harder to let procrastination take hold this way. As an added bonus, you also have someone to celebrate your victories with, no matter how small. Whether it’s getting an A on that physics test or just finishing a project a few days in advance, someone will be there to support you.
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